Friday, February 24, 2006

99: “My Heroes”

Just before I post a somewhat recollective centenary essay I thought a little change of pace might be in order.

We should, for clarification, examine the term “hero-worship”. It applies here, but not beyond the first definition below:

he·ro-wor·ship (hîr'ō-wûr'shĭp)
tr.v., -shiped or -shipped, -ship·ing or -ship·ping, -ships or -ships.
1. To revere as an ideal.
2. To adulate.
he'ro-wor'ship·er n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2004, 2000 by
Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

I write in terms of revering as an ideal, certain individuals, and groups of people who strike me as being heroic.

This blogger takes an occasional class at the local campus of Harrisburg Area Community College. One of the more pleasant occurrences on taking the classes there was discovering my preconceived negative notion about the current younger generation that made up most of the student population was totally out of whack.

The school draws largely from the non-traditional student. It has a huge emphasis on nursing and graduates a fairly large class of nurses every term. There are other concentrations as well: law enforcement, general liberal arts, education, business, technical, and so on. By non-traditional, I mean returning students who have either delayed or had interrupted their college start, retrainees, and servicemen and women (an amazing number of women in that category!). Those veterans who are taking courses may be recently discharged, trying to get a good start on college, or they may be wounded vets preparing for life after the service.

This school is serious about its studies, too. Included among the activities and clubs is a fraternity/sorority of sorts, called Phi Theta Kappa. It is the two year college version of Phi Beta Kappa. It is an international honor society that requires a 3.2 or higher cumulative average after one semester (minimum 12 hours), and regular service to the school and/or community.

I have not done any statistical analysis, but the local campus of HACC (which has three other satellite campuses and a beautiful main campus), has a pretty high membership rate in PTK among its students.

Recently, as this blogger has reached past middle age, medical needs require frequent stops at the hospital for tests, and exams. I frequently meet young people who might, perhaps, be a lab tech who would draw a blood sample, or an x-ray technician, or a nurse, and I usually muster the courage to ask where they went to school. I met one recently who went to the same school I do. I told her how I had developed heroes among my classmates. She chuckled and asked what I meant.

My answer was to describe one young woman who has over half a dozen children; her husband runs his own business; she is an officer in Phi Theta Kappa. I said I was astounded at the number of young mothers, both single and otherwise, who attend that school, who also work at least part time – some even have their own businesses! And many of them make it into Phi Theta Kappa. Many of the young men are employed full time, and fitting a near full course load into their schedule, while supporting and raising a family.

She didn’t say much, just busied herself in her box of bottles, needles, gauze and tape, and alcohol swabs. I asked her if she fit that category, she thought a moment and admitted she did. She had one child, and her husband was just finishing up a 15 month tour with the Army, somewhere between Ramadi and the Iraqi-Syrian Border. She still wouldn’t look up, and I think I was somewhat glad, as I told her, with tears in my eyes, “You are one of my heroes, and so is your husband.”

This group of young people absolutely floor me. My generation was somewhat selfish, self-centered, and self-absorbed. These souls are centered, focused, ambitious, and undeterred by the obstacles, and impediments life constantly throws in our way.

She said she wanted to be a nurse, but the course of study was simply too much with her son at home and her husband away, so she backed off and took work as a lab tech. She’s still taking classes though. I’d wager my next retirement check that within two years, she graduates and is capped as a nurse. I never got her name, but I’d love to attend that ceremony and be among those who applaud the loudest.

My nephew is married to a wonderful woman, and they are blessed with a beautiful little girl, almost two years old. They live in Germany where he is based with the Air Force. She teaches at the dependent school, and is a veteran in her own right. These two have a plan. And they are sticking with it. He has recently crossed onto the downhill side of a twenty year hitch. He loves what he does, and they both adore living in Germany, but would love to come home, too. When they do, they visit here, and we continue to learn even more how wonderfully heroic they are.

One of my “other” heroes, Theodore Roosevelt, once said:

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

I used to think this younger generation selfish, and self-abusive. I used to fear for the future of my country because of the image of the younger people. And, in the course of my years, I’ve seen many of those young people who are not among my heroes. But the future of the nation will not be in their hands, it will be in the hands of my heroes. I thank God for them.


Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

98: "Non-Endorsement of Lynn Swann"

GettysBLOG has been torn all winter over the Republican endorsement for Pennsylvania's next governor. We were at odds over the three main choices, Scranton, Swann and Panyard. When the Scranton campaign fumbled it reduced the field to two. We had already reviewed Panyard back in December in THE CENTRIST #
4: "Anti-Gambling Republican for Governor". Jim Panyard came out in favor of repealing the virulently unethical legislation enabling gaming in Pennsylvania, Act 71 of 2004. We were thrilled to have a candidate who promised to sign, not veto, a repeal of that legislation.

THE CENTRIST queried Lynn Swann's campaign about it by email. No response. We sent another query. This got a response from "Receptionist" (apparently someone who screens Swann's email), and promised that THE CENTRIST would hear back shortly from David Alexander, Deputy Political Director. After another week, we sent a follow up message pointing out that political candidates really should not treat friends this way. Still nothing. After several more days, we sent a final email to "Receptionist", informing them that not only would there be no endorsement of Mr. Swann from THE CENTRIST, there would indeed be a non-endorsement posting. This is it.

We believe the Republican Party of Pennsylvania has made a terrible mistake. Frankly, except for a select few, no one in the state knows exactly what Lynn Swann stands for, besides less government, lower taxes, restricting abortion, and educating our children. In other words, 'boiler-plate' Republican issues.

"So what?", you ask. We are glad you asked that question.

The greatest threat to Pennsylvanians today is not more or less government, it is not abortion, it is not the state of our educational system, it is not high taxes. All of these ARE issues. But the greatest issue in Pennsylvania today is the massive corruption of our body politic. By that, I mean, not just the elected officials from Governor to dog-catcher, but the people who back them politically...the party committees, the ward leaders, the local and county and statewide organizations that now rely on voters to walk into a booth and pull the party lever.

Who are these people? Many of them are your friends, relatives, and neighbors. Many are not. Many of them are committed to political ideals, while others are committed to backing candidates who will thank them by passing legislation that will make them money. The higher you go in the hierarchy of politics in the state, the greater the number of those seeking wealth and power, and the fewer who are idealistically motivated. There are few idealists in politics at the state level.

The proof is in the pudding. Look at our state legislature and our governor. Last year they tried to sneak an enormous pay raise through in the dead of night, hoping no one was watching. 16-34%. And it was done at the bidding of the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The governor, who's wife is a sitting Federal judge, signed the legislation into law. All parties tried to defend it when the news hit the streets. It created enough voter anger that an organized, grass roots campaign got a sitting state Supreme Court justice ousted from office, and only a last minute flurry of campaign ads by former governor Ridge, saved a second justice from a similar fate.

The legislature repealed the raise in November, AFTER the election. There was no admission of wrong doing, or even of 'errors of judgment'. To this day, there are still legislators who have kept the money they took by way of a highly unethical, probably illegal "unvouchered expense" under the raise. Rendell refuses to press the issue.

In 2004, in the very same underhanded and furtive manner, the legislature passed Act 71, which enabled gaming in Pennsylvania. There is so much wrong with this legislation that we would need a few more essays to lay it all out. Suffice to say that it is replete with unethical, unconstitutional, and perhaps illegal sections which allow, among other things, the legislators to secretly own investments in casinos, even while being the appointing body to the Gaming Control Board (GCB); the right for the GCB to allow a casino to be built anywhere, regardless of local opposition, or zoning laws; the right of the GCB to act in secret, to limit public comment, and to meet in private.

Perhaps the biggest threat to Pennsylvania is the harm that will be done by the presence of gaming to its citizens. The gaming industry has been shown to prey on addictive persons, primarily gambling addicts and alcoholics. In many cases, persons who had no idea they were addictive wind up being addicted to both gambling and alcohol. Both are destructive of the individual, the family, and social and economic network surrounding them, and the community social framework.

There are not a lot of people who will get rich from this industry. A handful of investors, a large number of out of state investors and partners, and a bunch of politicians. The odds against Joe Citizen striking it rich in a casino in Pennsylvania are astronomically high. And odds mean very little to the addicted gambler. A recent story on the news told of a woman who gambled daily on her way to work, and stole from her son to support it. At one point, she lost all her money, and on the way out of the casino, was searching the floor for one more nickel to get it all back. This is typical of the desperation created by gambling addiction.

Clearly, Pennsylvania government is in the hands of ‘developers’ – the somewhat nebulous group of investors, builders and some realtors, who are guilty of imposing runaway development on some parts of the state that need little development, while ignoring the large portions of the state that are in need of economic and physical development. This group includes those who would build casinos. Because there are several state agencies that oversee how land is used in Pennsylvania, there is no clear strategy to control development. It is going strictly where it will provide the biggest payoff for the ‘developers’. The worst culprit is the state Department of Community and Economic Development, with its very powerful Commonwealth Financing Authority. They finance the local, County Economic Development Corporations who have totally lost sight of their purpose. They build wherever there is green – space to build on, and money to make.

The laws must be rewritten to correct this as there is simply no protection any more for the rights of the citizen to own property.

Article One of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania states in its Declaration of Rights:
Inherent Rights of Mankind
Section 1.

All men are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent and indefeasible rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, of acquiring, possessing and protecting property and reputation, and of pursuing their own happiness.

Reservation of Powers in People
Section 25.

To guard against the transgressions of the high powers which we have delegated, we declare that everything in this article is excepted out of the general powers of government and shall forever remain inviolate.

Natural Resources and the Public Estate
Section 27.

The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment. Pennsylvania's public natural resources are the common property of all the people, including generations yet to come. As trustee of these resources, the Commonwealth shall conserve and maintain them for the benefit of all the people.

We believe the current legislature, and the current governor, have violated these articles of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They have put vast numbers of the citizens of Pennsylvania at risk of great harm to life, and property, and encouraged the spoiling of the natural resources as enumerated in Section 27, by the ‘developers’.

Lynn Swann takes no position on any of these issues – not gambling, or political corruption, or runaway development. For all the voters of Pennsylvania know Swann may be an investor in a casino, and therefore unwilling to commit to the repeal of gaming in Pennsylvania. So this same man who cares so much for your youth that he wants to see them properly educated, and cares so much for the unborn of Pennsylvania, who wants to reduce your taxes by reducing your government, may very well care less about the adults in this Commonwealth being seduced by alcohol and gambling into addictions requiring greater government, and more taxes to handle the growing treatment of problem addicts fostered by the gaming industry in Pennsylvania.

We do not know if Lynn Swann feels that way or not, but we cannot afford to take the risk in not knowing. There is too much at stake.

We had great hopes for Mr. Swann – an outsider with charm, name and face recognition, and a clean background. He seemed to have a message, but when we looked for it, it wasn’t there. Indeed, his own voting record casts a shadow on his fitness to run for elected office, having not participated in many of the elections over the past decade. If he was not interested in Pennsylvania politics then, how can we be sure he is interested now? The fact is, even as an outsider, Swann's endorsement last weekend by the Republican State Committee smacked of politics as usual, and lacked any indicators of the required reforms as demonstrated by the voters last November.

We cannot, and will not, under any circumstances, advocate voting for Ed Rendell. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. Not only has he practically destroyed many of the departments in state government, he is the principle architect of gaming in Pennsylvania. That is a hideous affront to the people of this Commonwealth.

We cannot back Lynn Swann. He is an empty candidate, who charmed his way to the state committee endorsement, gaining it by default more than anything else.

We don’t need a schmooze artist as governor, as we have now. We need a man of character, ethics, and strong moral fiber.
Jim Panyard.

Come the May Primary Election, I am writing Jim Panyard’s name in as my choice for Republican gubernatorial candidate. If necessary, I will do the same in November.

I encourage you to do the same.


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” -- THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" -- GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.” -- GettysBLOG

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 17, 2006

97: “Take A Ride Into The Future”

Fast forward if you will, to the July 4th weekend, 2008. Independence Day is on Friday.

It is the 145th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The reenactment, which is 50% larger than the 135th anniversary reenactment, which created gridlock on the roads surrounding Gettysburg, and on the Battlefield itself, has attracted almost 100,000 visitors to the area. There are no rooms to be had in Adams County.

The interchange at routes 30 and 15 is now fully developed. On the south side of US 30, on one side of 15 is the Adams Commerce Center, complete with Convention Center, hotels, movie theaters, and restaurants, and of course, a car dealership, a bank headquarters, a motorcycle dealership, and a window manufacturing plant. At the very corner will be a gas station with a bank of ATM machines.

On the west side of 15, a new housing development stretching from the Hanover Street exit north to US 30, with its own bridge over US 15 to connect it to an access road running between Pella Windows, and the Adams County Bank Building, and emerging onto Cavalry Field Road. It is the required second access to the development.

On the north side of US 30, another commercial complex, stretching perhaps two miles north along US 15. It contains Gettysburg’s new mall, complete with a Borders, a Boscovs, a Sears and a Penneys. There will also be a Lowes located at one end.

Across 15 on the northeast side of the interchange, will be the brand new Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa, glittering with enough neon to dim the stars overhead for miles around.

North on 15, at the next exit up, 250 acres have been paved over, and a new complex has been constructed there, a hotel, a restaurant (a Lone Star?), and a campground, all to revolve around a new equestrian center (read: rodeo arena), comprised of two indoor and one outdoor arena/exhibition area, and 1,500 horse stalls.

South of 30, along Route 15, at the Hanover Street exit, green still exists – in the form of an expanded Drummer Boy Campground. It is filled to overflow capacity with 40 cabins and over 500 campsites filled up by about 2500 persons, using almost 600 cars, busses and RVs.

Traffic on US 30 east of Gettysburg has been backed up all the way to New Oxford since mid-evening Thursday. People pull their cars off to the side of the road to sleep. In town, nothing is moving east on York Street from its intersection with equally clogged Hanover Street all the way to the new malls. The line to exit from US 15 north onto US 30 stretches all the way back to the Maryland Line, while the southbound side coming from Harrisburg is backed up almost to the Heidlersburg exit. PA 116 west of town, the Fairfield Road, is bumper to bumper all the way through Fairfield, to the intersection with PA 16 near the Maryland line. Nothing is moving on the side roads north of town because of the reenactment. Nothing is moving on the roads south of town because of the memorabilia shows at the Eisenhower Convention Center on Emmitsburg Road.

The Battlefield, and the town, are gridlocked. Emergency services personnel are sent to scenes by bicycle and when possible by motorcycle. Babies are born at home, in cars, and in stores and churches, and some of them do not survive. Heart attack victims, already stressed by the heat, are unable to reach a treatment facility in time, and their death toll climbs throughout the weekend. Accidents and heat take their toll at the reenactment, too, where some 1,500 Re-enactors, and about 650 spectators are treated for injuries and heat related problems. Fortunately, pre-arranged medical teams and facilities were present, but even they were overwhelmed. A water main break somewhere east of town has cut off running water to the borough and its immediate surrounding areas. None of the facilities along 15 have running water. Police look the other way as stranded motorists relieve themselves along the road. The police are also unable to stop the violent outbursts of frustrated motorists unable to get to their destinations, many of which have been paid for. These outbursts include beatings and assaults, rape, and four murders.

By the end of the weekend, some 28 people are dead, over 300 are either hospitalized, or in temporary holding areas awaiting transport to a hospital.

The casino, the hotels, the movie theaters and restaurants within walking distance of US 30 and/or 15, the Equestrian Complex, the re-enactment, the campgrounds, and roadside convenience stores and fast food places and the new mall, all report very high profits for the weekend, in some cases, record profits.

Happy 145th Anniversary, Gettysburg!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” --THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Call for Help to Right An Affront To Honored Men

In the middle afternoon of July 2nd, 1863, the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, of Brigadier General Charles K. Graham’s 1st Brigade, 1st Division (under Brigadier General David B. Birney) was in a line of battle in front of the Wentz House, at the intersection of Wheatfield Lane and the Emmitsburg Road. Collis’ Zouaves, as the 114th was known, was enduring a savage shelling by Confederate artillery located only a few hundred yards to the west on Warfield Ridge. For two hours they lay there under the barrage.

To their left, across the Wheatfield Lane, the 68th Pennsylvania stood in line of battle among the trees of the Peach Orchard, their right joined to the Zouaves left, in the road. To the right of the Zouaves, stood the 57th and 105th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiments, all forming a line north along the east side of the Emmitsburg Road. Behind them, down the slope toward the Trostle Farm, was Clark’s Battery B, First New Jersey Light Artillery, supported by the 141st Pennsylvania Infantry. Bucklyn’s Battery E, First Rhode Island Light Artillery (Randolph’s Battery) was placed at the edge of the Emmitsburg Road in front of the infantry, where the battery immediately engaged Confederate artillery on Warfield Ridge.

These men of strict disciplinarian Graham’s Brigade were the salient force of Major General Daniel Sickles Third Corps, Army of the Potomac. They were approximately a mile west of where they were ordered to be, and only the lateness of discovery by General Meade allowed them to stay in that position, it being too late to move them back. (It is a controversy that rages still today.)

At about 5 PM, the enemy began his advance. Coming at them was the storied Mississippi brigade of Brigadier General William Barksdale, a white-haired man who, once engaged in combat, became a figure of fury, wading into the enemy with everything he had. Such abandon would cost him his life later in the day.

In response, the Zouaves moved forward across the Emmitsburg Road. They entered the farm yard of John and Mary Sherfy. Firing from between the house and the barn, the Zouaves repeatedly fired into the advancing Mississippians, who were also firing, advancing, firing, and advancing. Eventually, the weight of numbers began to tell. The Union line fell back east of the Emmitsburg Road and reformed. Barksdale maneuvered his large regiments to overlap and flank the men of Graham’s Brigade, concentrating on the location where the Zouaves and the 68th met.

There was nothing to do but fall back. In a magnificently executed fighting withdrawal, the 114th, in small groups, fired, and withdrew, first north along the Emmitsburg Road, and then east toward Cemetery Ridge, where General Hancock had ordered forward Willard’s New York brigade to cover the withdrawal. By this method, the surviving Zouaves finally reformed their line, and were able to come off the field with their colors. They were badly mauled. During their withdrawal, many of their wounded were left lying in the fields and the road. Confederates carried many of them to the Sherfy House and barn. Later, however, during the continued artillery shelling, both buildings were burned to the ground. The remains of those who perished in the fires, were surrounded by those who perished in the intense fighting around those buildings. About 100 of the Zouaves had been killed. Many more were taken prisoner by the rapidly advancing Confederates. However, they gave, perhaps, better even than they took. One Mississippi private from the 17th Mississippi, the unit that assaulted the junction of the 67th and 114th Pennsylvania on Wheatfield Lane, reported 223 men of his regiment killed or wounded, 29 in his own company.

This is the monument of the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Collis’ Zouaves, as it appeared this morning along Emmitsburg Road, where so many of the men fell. The bronze Zouave was toppled from the monument overnight. Park Protection Rangers Brion Fitzgerald and Lauren Gantz inspect the area.

Up the Emmitsburg Road north of Graham’s Brigade, Andrew A. Humphreys’ Division of Sickles’ Third Corps spread its thin lines east of that road. In the middle brigade, that of Brigadier General Joseph P. Carr, was the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded in this battle by Lieutenant Colonel Porter D. Tripp. Carr’s Brigade was in a line south of the Codori Farm. The Confederates advancing against them from the low area between the south end of Seminary Ridge and the north end of Warfield Ridge were Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox’s Alabama Brigade, and on their left, Perry’s Florida Brigade under command of Colonel David Lang.

As Graham’s Brigade began to succumb to the overwhelming numbers of Barksdale’s Mississippians, and fall back, support for the left of Humphrey’s Division evaporated. This coincided with the approach of Wilcox and Lang toward Carr’s Brigade, and the 11th Massachusetts. In light of the tactical situation, a withdrawal was ordered. The regiments fell back, and eventually reached the safety of Cemetery Ridge. In the process, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock would order the 1st Minnesota Regiment forward to glory as it turned Wilcox and Lang as they emerged from a defile through which Plum Run flows.

This is the monument to the 11th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, dedicated by the veterans on October 8, 1885, as it appeared this morning along the Emmitsburg Road, where many of that regiment fought and died. The sculpture on the top of the monument was pulled from its position, and smashed on the pavement.

Additionally, the sculpted figure of an artilleryman was pulled down from the top of Smith’s 4th New York Independent Battery monument on top of Devil’s Den (Houck’s Ridge).

This is the worst single night of vandalism to occur at the park in at least ten years.

The men of these three units fought VERY bravely on this field, and many of them died here. They do not deserve to have their memory debased, and their honor treated in such a disrespectful manner.

In a press release, the National Park Service said, “Gettysburg National Military Park is looking for information related to the vandalism of civil war monuments on the Gettysburg Battlefield damaged during the night of February 15, 2006 or the early morning hours of February 16, 2006…. Anyone with any information is asked to call the National Park Service at 717-334-0909.”

This is a despicable display of ignorance, disrespect, and willful destruction of property. It is a disgrace. The perpetrators need to be caught and punished.

Please, if you know anything about this, or think you might, call the Rangers at 717-334-0909. After all, it is your Park, too. I hope you are as offended by this as I am.


Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

96: “Words Are Cheap!”

The governor has said it. A casino in Gettysburg is a bad idea. A Casino near any heritage/historical area is a bad idea. Yep, that’s what he said, our governor, Edward “Fast Eddie” Rendell.

In doing so, he crossed his long-time friend and supporter, Gettysburg’s own David LeVan. LeVan is the president of the investment group trying to build a casino less than two miles from the Borough of Gettysburg, and even closer to parts of the Battlefield. David LeVan tried to turn the governor’s comments to his advantage by claiming the proposed slots parlor was not close to the Gettysburg Battlefield, or the town. The effort was another of the group’s major public relations blunders.

The group promises to not trade on either the town, or the Battlefield, and has changed its name to Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa. “A rose by any other name…”

It should be noted that LeVan is already trading on that heritage link with his Harley Davidson dealership, which he placed on East Cavalry Field Road, and called Battlefield Harley Davidson. It should also be noted that any casino built at the proposed location will have a Gettysburg mailing address, and all the billboards will say Gettysburg on them. (“Located in Gettysburg”…“at the Gettysburg Exit”…“just off the Gettysburg Pike”…etc.) “A rose by any other name…”

It’s time for some realpolitik here. First, let’s define realpolitik:
realpolitik (ray-ahl-poh-li-teek)
Governmental policies based on hard, practical considerations rather than on moral or idealistic concerns. Realpolitik is German for “the politics of reality” and is often applied to the policies of nations that consider only their own interests in dealing with other countries.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Edited by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph F. Kett, and James Trefil. Copyright © 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.

As we are applying it here, the hard practical considerations mean money. Oodles of money. Ever since his days as chairman of the Democratic National Committee, “Fast Eddie” has been the beneficiary of oodles of money from the gambling interests of this nation. As DNC chair, he funneled that money into targeted congressional elections across the country hoping to gain seats for the Democrats in Congress. Success was not really there in this endeavor. But Fast Eddie was then indebted to the gambling industry for their largesse. The hook was in.

Now, that realpolitik money has financed his first campaign for governor, on the promise of adding legislation for legalized gaming in Pennsylvania. As a reward, he is likely being financed for reelection by funding from the gambling interests. No doubt there are other candidates, for example some running for re-election to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, who are feeling the largesse of the gambling industry as well. This blogger estimates that Pennsylvania’s “take” from the gambling interests is about a $1 billion. By far, the majority of that money will be spent, or has been spent, in lobbying efforts, almost all of which is strictly unaccountable as Pennsylvania has no lobbying law. How convenient. The hook is set.

So, when Governor “Fast Eddie” Rendell says it’s a bad idea to build a casino near Gettysburg, you can rest assured he does so with impunity. No one in Pennsylvania will lose any money from the gambling industry because of his words. Indeed, he is the Golden Boy of Las Vegas! The industry has not seen the likes of an expansion of gambling in this country before. 14 slots parlors, and hard on their heels, legislation enabling table games (poker, Black Jack, Texas Hold ‘Em, roulette, craps).

That thunderclap sound you just heard was your government bureaucracy expanding. The accompanying whooshing sound was the emptying of your wallet as your taxes go up to support this huge profit-making industry in Pennsylvania.

So, it costs “Fast Eddie” nothing to say a casino in Gettysburg is a bad idea. Indeed, he even won over a few Red County voters for the governor’s race. Of course, he qualified his statement by saying that he does not make the decision where the casinos will go, the Gaming Control Board does. In other words, and if you grasp this realpolitik thing, the deal is already cut. And when the Gaming Control Board announces the granting of a license to Chance Enterprises and the Crossroads Gaming, Spa and Resort, you can bet your bottom tax dollar that “Fast Eddie” will display his great displeasure. And he will be believable.

Realpolitik 2006 = money talks.

Proof? If he really meant what he said, and stood by his words, he would have prodded the General Assembly to pass Representative Steve Maitland’s bill proposing a 15 mile minimum distance between casinos and heritage/historical areas. And then he would have signed it, as long as it had no effect on any other proposed casinos. In other words, the bill must be tailored to suit only Gettysburg, thus excluding placing bans on construction of casinos within ten miles of Valley Forge National Historic Park, and Independence Mall National Historic Park in Philadelphia, to say nothing of the casinos to be built in Pittsburgh that would fall within that minimum to the historic Fort Pitt/Fort Duquesne, and possibly some of the French and Indian Wars battle sites in suburban Pittsburgh. Fat chance. Try to construct a piece of legislation that prohibits a casino only in the Gettysburg area that does not also affect at least one other proposed project! Again, “Fast Eddie” has impunity on his side.

Regardless, he has made no such effort. He has not negotiated with leadership in the General Assembly to get the bill moving, passed, and signed. It would be relatively easy for him to do so, and at little expense to the members of the General Assembly at large. Oh, some of them who are secret investors in the project may howl, but they would be compensated in other ways.

In the world of realpolitik, talk is cheap.


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” --THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

95: "Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots"

There it was, in black and white. It stared back up at me like a snake, cornered in the basement, no place to go, but ready to strike. The headline: “Complaint against Pa. chief justice dismissed.” That familiar feeling struck…you know the one -- you get it in your gut when you’ve drunk way too much coffee.

Just one week ago our fellow blogger, THE CENTRIST, posted on similar complaints in an essay titled
26: “Taking control, Phase Two”. That, however, was about a suit filed in Federal Court. This one, however, was a request for review of judicial conduct.

Gene Stilp, a political activist from the greater Harrisburg area, had filed the complaint last August after word got out alleging that Chief Justice Ralph Cappy had acted improperly in consulting, (read: urging) the legislative leadership to pass the enormous (and infamous) pay raise, not just for the legislators, but for the judges of Pennsylvania, too. Stilp wanted the reviewers to determine if Cappy violated any ethics rules in the process of those negotiations. (There have been rumors to the effect that the pay raise itself was the brainchild of Cappy.)

First, though, you must understand that the complaint was dismissed by the reviewing body, The Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board. That’s right, the Pennsylvania Judicial Review Board, twelve persons sitting in review of the conduct of the courts in the Commonwealth, and half of them, three attorneys, and three judges, are appointed by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

Wait a minute, do you mean to tell me that judges and attorneys appointed by the State Supreme Court are ruling on the propriety of the actions of the Chief Justice of the…State Supreme Court?

Yes, that is exactly what I am telling you.

Wait, it gets better.

In November, Cappy’s lawyer, one W. Thomas McGough, Jr., Esquire, wrote a letter to the board defending his client. According to an AP story out of Harrisburg, the letter cited the Pennsylvania Code of Judicial Conduct, which allows judges to “…engage in activities to improve the law, the legal system, and the administration of justice”, and “…allows judges to participate in activities concerning the legal system and consult with individuals of the other two branches ‘on matters concerning the administration of justice’.”

Perhaps some kind soul out there could connect those two dots for me…the one about the administration of justice and the improvement of the legal system, to the one about the judge’s pay raise.

Is there a different oath of office for a judge paid $45,000 per year than the judge paid $85,000 per year? Do the people of this great Commonwealth get different qualities of justice based on how much the judges get?

How, exactly then, does a pay raise affect the administration of justice? The one answer possible is the retention of quality judges.

Hello?!?! Based on the performance of Cappy and his followers on the bench, I think that not only would the people of this Commonwealth get better judicial service at a lower rate, but they could also stand to wave good-bye to the current crop, en masse, and appoint a new crop, and by the next day forget all about “Ralph Whatshisname”. Quite frankly, I think the people of this Commonwealth would rather that happen.

Ralph Cappy’s actions regarding the Midnight Pay Raise of July, 2005, have all the appearances of his being involved in a conspiracy to commit grand larceny against the citizens of Pennsylvania.

State employees have not had a raise in two years. By this time next year, they will have had about a 5-6% increase, for an average of about 2% over the three year period. How much did the legislators and judges get in that now-repealed raise…11-34%? And the State employees can’t even get a raise concomitant with the annual rise in the cost of living?

The really sad thing about all of this is that none of them see it – not the governor, the legislators, or the judges…none of them see anything wrong with their actions. Oh, they repealed the raise, but only because the voters threw a sitting judge off the State Supreme Court in the last election. He was a sop thrown to the masses to assuage their anger. Nope, they don’t see it.

There is not a single one of that group that would know an ethic if it struck them between the eyes. So full of hubris are they, and greed, they conspire and change the rules to suit themselves, exempt each other from laws, and rules of ethics, and allow each other increasingly to operate in secret, and with a power to override the will of the people.

Somewhere down on the sidebar to the right is a quotation from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group."

Government in Pennsylvania has reached that point.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors understand and grasp this fact.

Every day, more and more of your neighbors decide to take action.

You have but one weapon left to defeat this menace called state government: Your vote.

A vote for an incumbent means you do not care.

A vote for an incumbent means you will continue to see your government grow until it begins to take enough money from you that you cannot feed your family, the whole while, the legislators, the governor, and the judges will be getting wealthier and wealthier.

A vote for an incumbent means the next time they pass a sneaky giant pay raise, they will ignore any uproar totally, because you do not care enough to tell them they are wrong, because you don’t care enough to vote somebody in who DOES know the difference between right and wrong. They surely don’t.

A vote for an incumbent will lose you the last public voice you have…the press. Like the legislators, they simply will not believe that you care enough to mean it when you threaten to chase them all out of office. The press has been your friend since last July, and has helped stoke the fires that got Justice Nigro voted out. The press is now being made to pay for their editorials about the Midnight Pay Raise. The legislature is trying to impose a tax that would affect print news media -- all because they were early in raising the alarm about the pay raise, and late supporters of the repeal. Because the press helped greatly in the effort to awaken the voters, the General Assembly has it in for them.

A vote for an incumbent is a signature on a contract to give away your personal sovereignty.

Expediency calls for the ouster of all of them, all the legislators up for office, the Governor, and the judges, when they come up for re-election. We’ll lose a few good ones in the bunch, but you just can’t tell the keepers from the greed-mongers. Vote ‘em all out, and let God sort them out.

The great social contract theorist of the 17th century, Thomas Hobbes wrote that kings not only declare law, they make law, and that they derive their power, or sovereignty, from the consent of the governed, who have given over to him their personal sovereignty.

Do not let apathy allow the last of your personal sovereignty to slip away into the hands of those who govern you.

In the United States, we fought a revolution from 1776 to 1783, to regain that personal sovereignty. And here we’ve gone and given just about all of it back!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!"

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote, GettysBLOG!

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 13, 2006

94: “Signing Time”

Time to put up or shut up. Starting tomorrow, February 14, 2006, Republican and Democratic candidates for the General Assembly and other offices, must begin gathering signatures on their petitions. Here is the latest from PA Clean Sweep, and friend Russ Diamond. Please make a note to go to the petition page (link included below), and learn the ins and outs of signing a candidate’s petition. It is important that you do it correctly or your signature will be challenged and thrown out. Far too many political campaigns are won and lost at this stage simply because the candidate was not prepared to submit proper paperwork. Here is the announcement:

PACleanSweep Announces 10 More Candidates
including a primary challenger to House Minority Leader Bill DeWeese

ANNVILLE, PA [02.13.06] - PACleanSweep today added 10 new names to their growing list of approved candidates, including a Democratic challenger to Bill DeWeese. The total number of PACleanSweep-approved candidates stands at 89 with 77 potential candidates awaiting approval.

House Candidates:
Bill Stalter (R-20)
Lisa Bennington (D-21)
Mike Galovich (D-27)
Robert F 'Bobby' Danko (D-50)
Jason D. Fularz (R-54)
John P Estok (D-59)
Jonathan Keeler (R-106)
Larry Farnese (D-182)
Justin Blumenthal (R-202)

Senate Candidate:
Drake Minder (D-16)

Petitioning for Republican and Democratic candidates begins on Valentine's Day, February 14. Candidates must file their candidacy with the state by March 7 to qualify for the May primary. State House candidates need 300 valid signatures to have their name appear on the primary ballot, while state Senate candidates are required to collect 500.

Complete PACleanSweep Candidate List

How to Sign a Petition...

Pennsylvania Voter Survival Guide

About PACleanSweep:
PACleanSweep is a non-partisan effort dedicated to defeating incumbent elected officials in Pennsylvania and replacing them with true public servants. For more information, please visit

For More Information:
Russ Diamond
PACleanSweep Chair

Please get out and support the Clean Sweep candidates. It is long past time to kick the hubris out of Harrisburg! You've complained about Harrisburg for eight months (or longer!), so now it is time to take action and stand behind your words. Support these brave souls who are taking on the big guns in Harrisburg - the incumbents. You, the voters of Pennsylvania demonstrated your power when aroused last November by ousting a sitting Justice from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. That's never been done before. In doing so, you have delivered a warning to the leadership in Harrisburg that you are very displeased with the way things are run. Some of them have ignored your warning, and others have ridiculed it. But, the floor has heard it. Incumbents in record numbers are NOT running for reelection.

So, know your candidates. Back them up. Sign their petitions. And when you get in that booth, make sure you do NOT vote for a candidate with an "I" after their name, indicating an incumbent. After all, this is Operation Clean Sweep.


“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

93: “The Cleansing”

After the fighting ended on that 3rd day of July, 1863, and after the smoke had cleared, some 150,000 men stared blankly across the slope separating Seminary Ridge from Cemetery Ridge, and wondered what version of Hell would next present itself. A small group of soldiers ventured out from Union lines on Cemetery Ridge, in front of the artillery pieces that were now cooling and silent. They went forward and worked to put out the blaze in front of those guns, where grass, and clothing and bodies themselves had caught fire from the intense heat of the furious blasts.

If you had not been present for the battle, but had happened on it just at this time, you would have heard the moaning, and screams of thousands of wounded and dying who were laying on that slope, and around those guns. Those that had partaken of the battle, who had fired their guns in as rapid a fashion as they could, and had defended those cannons from the enemy, heard only the ringing in their ears. In some cases it would be days before they could hear normally, in other cases, they never would.

Ambulance attendants, hospital orderlies, and work crews from all the regiments that were able to muster them, on both ridges, began to move forward to collect, first the wounded, then later, the dead. As they had the night before, the bands of all the regiments, brigades, divisions and corps, began to play along Taneytown Road, to mask the sounds coming from the hospitals in the rear. Down the western slope of Seminary Ridge, the Confederate bands played. Because of that gun-deafness, few who were in the front lines could hear the bands. It was a good thing, perhaps, for it meant they were the lucky few who could not hear the screaming and the low, steady moaning sound that came from the hospitals, not quite hidden by the music.

Officers busied themselves scurrying along the regimental and company fronts, straightening their lines, checking their men, making sure they had all gotten fresh ammunition, and water. The sergeants would be along later with some food, hardtack most likely, and perhaps some salt beef from a commissary barrel someone was actually able to locate.

Out on the slope, frequent shots rang out, as a wounded horse or mule was found, and its misery ended.

As the twilight deepened into full night, one could look across the slope between the ridges and see lanterns moving about on the field, as the removal process continued. For once, neither side had the stomach to take the other under fire. For once, exhaustion, and a surfeit of bloodletting forced humanity upon them.

Sometime in the early morning hours of July 4th, 1863, Independence Day, it began to rain. After a hazy dawn, the recovery continued, in the rain. A prisoner exchange was requested by General Robert E. Lee, and declined by Major General George G. Meade. It was Union policy that prisoner exchanges cease, because the Confederacy refused to treat captured United States Colored Troops, and their white officers the same as white troops, and their white officers; and because the United States was winning a war of attrition against the Confederacy, and the return of Confederate prisoners who would fight again after parole, would only help prolong the war.

All day in the fog and the rain, the recovery continued. Some wounded would lay there for days before being discovered and taken to hospitals. Many who searched for Confederate dead and wounded were their slaves, looking for their masters. As many as 10,000 had accompanied the Army of Northern Virginia on the campaign. Now, as it became obvious that the Rebels has suffered a setback, many of the slaves were running from the army, and into the freedom of the Pennsylvania countryside – behind Union lines.

Lee ordered a few units to build rather large fires along Seminary Ridge after nightfall on the 4th. Indeed, he had sent his main supply train, some twenty miles in length, back toward the Potomac River earlier in the day, complete with the wounded, and the prisoners Meade refused to exchange. They went west, initially toward Chambersburg, but only to turn south once over the crest of South Mountain. Now it was time for the Army to go. They headed southwest toward Hagerstown by way of Fairfield, and Waynesboro.

By July 5th, the rain had increased its intensity. Cavalry troopers pursuing the retreating Confederates over South Mountain near the village of Monterey, on the evening of the 5th, slogged up the steep mountain road, fighting not only the mud, and the Confederates, but the driving rain, and the rushing torrents than drained down from the crest of the mountain. The terrain on either side of the road was so treacherous that the Confederates placed only one artillery piece in the road, and aimed it down at the men of Brigadier General George A. Custer’s Michigan Cavalry Brigade. Custer’s men knew they were close, and eventually carved out a five mile long section of Major General Richard S. Ewell’s Corps supply train, which was approximately 17 miles long.

Back at the battlefield, the teeming rains continued to wash the blood from the ground, and rocks. The rains kept up for days, and why not, had there not been so much blood spilled, that the rains would need time to do the cleansing? And during this time, a few militia troops, and many civilian volunteers once again scoured the battlefield for wounded, and buried the dead upon which they stumbled.

One need only look at the photographer’s images, those, in particular, of Alexander Gardner, the Scotsman hired by Matthew Brady to come to America 1857, or Timothy O’Sullivan, both of whom were part of a group of about 20 that Brady sent out across the country to photograph the Civil War, to see the weather. Anything in the distance in any of the views is shrouded in fog and mist.

They arrived soon after the battle. They started taking pictures immediately, trying to capture the dead, and get an image of the numbers of the dead. It had been the dead of the September, 1862, Battle of Antietam, that had both repulsed and enthralled the visitors to Brady’s New York gallery. It brought the human price of the war home to all who viewed those images.

By the time Gardner and O’Sullivan arrived, most of the Union dead had been removed from the fields. What we are left with is the view of row upon row of Confederate dead, and soldier after soldier, now a cold photographic subject, what was once a warm and breathing human being. Pictures of the dead made money, so pictures of the dead is what Brady got from his photographers.

Indeed, two of the most famous photos, The Harvest of Death (above), and its opposite view (below), which purport to be the only photographs showing Union dead on the Battlefield, are, to this day, still a mystery as to the location where they were taken.

Nevertheless, one can easily see the weather when the photographs were taken.

It rained, it poured, for days. Some have ventured to guess that a hurricane slowly moved through the area, dumping tropical rains on the Pennsylvania countryside.

The three days of killing on the fields surrounding the town of Gettysburg had made for very hot work. By day, the sun burned through the hazy humidity warming the air into the mid to upper 80s, and by night, it likely never went below the upper 60s. And coming a mere ten days after the summer solstice, those hot days allowed for maximum daylight hours – hours that could be used for the butchery of battle. It was rarely wasted, with most fights going from the afternoon, into the evening, and sometimes continuing all night long. It was hot, all three days…hot and dry.

Now, though, the great cleansing had begun, as if there was found a reason by nature to cause the great cleansing. The armies had moved off, and nature was doing its best to cleanse itself from this great killing that occurred over these beautiful, rocky fields, and through the woods, and orchards. It was as if it was eager to remove the scars of an insult. But even for nature, it was too late. The ground had been hallowed by blood, and by blood its hallowing would remain. And nothing, ever, would sully that hallowing.

Until now.


Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 06, 2006

92: "The Times That Try Men's Souls"

A little over two weeks ago, in an essay titled “GettysBLOG: Call for Anti-Slots Summit!”, GettysBLOG called for an Anti-Casino Summit, of all organized resistance to the casinos across the state. For some strange reason, this did not appeal to certain segments of that community (who shall remain nameless). The crux of the idea was not to count solely on separate efforts to defeat placement of casinos in certain locations around the state, but to also unify behind an effort that currently sits unmoving in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.

Now, the newspapers report that Steve Maitland's bill to keep casinos away from heritage areas is dead in the Tourism Committee. The committee chairman, Robert Godshall, (R-Montgomery) has the hubris to refuse to pass legislation to the floor for a vote if it is likely to be repealed. Hello? What kind of idiocy is this? Give the floor the right to do their jobs, you nimwit!

So, the idea is simple. Representative Paul Clymer (R-Bucks) has a bill going nowhere that calls for the repeal of the enabling legislation (Act 71 of 2004 - passed in the same sneaky midnight fashion as last year’s pay raise!). With four well organized but local groups fighting casinos in four different locations around the state, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that if they unite, and start pulling numbers from outside their areas, they can drum up enough support to get that repeal passed with enough votes to override a gubernatorial veto.

At the same time, they must keep up their local efforts.

The natural choice, for at least titular leadership, is No Casino Gettysburg, by dint of their hard won place on the world stage, experience at handling a publicity campaign on a greater than local level, and their already enormous support base. They also have the moral position that has been the crux of their fight. It does not take a large step to take the argument from "not in Gettysburg, not in America's Town", to "Not in Pennsylvania, where the Nation began!" If another leader steps forward, fine, but to kick this effort off...

It is an effort that should have begun as soon as the casino applications were filed with the Gaming Control Board. Now, time's awasting!

What the anti-casino groups are fighting, as is Mr. Clymer, is money. Literally millions of dollars are being poured into this state by the gaming industry to put pressure on legislators NOT to pass Clymer’s bill. And that money has the undivided attention, heart and soul of a small group of men who wield a disproportionate amount of power in Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, Bob Jubelirer, John Perzel, Vince Fumo, Sam Smith, Bill DeWeese, Robert Mellow, Mike O’Pake, Jeff Piccola, and David Brightbill. These men represent the leadership of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. They call the shots in Pennsylvania politics. And they love the money flowing into the state from the gaming industry. It is NOT, however, going into the public coffers. It is funneling through, among other sources, lobbyists, something Pennsylvania lacks any legal authority over because we are the only state in the nation with no lobbyist disclosure law. Legislators will not pass such a law because it would immediately affect the flow of such largesse.

GettysBLOG believes that the locations for the casinos was likely already decided before the passage of Acts 71 and 72, of 2004. Those men noted above knew it, and so, now, do the members of the Gaming Control Board. All will categorically deny it.

If you are a group fighting imposition of a casino in your community, can you afford not to believe that the locations were pre-determined? That is, locked-in place. The upcoming hearings are for show, and will not result in anything any different than what you get at a Township Supervisor’s meeting, “Oh, gee, I think it is an absolutely bad idea to put a casino in a community like East Falls, but I simply had to vote yes.” That is what they will say to the public when they announce the locations. If they will even become that public. They tend to operate in the darkest secrecy.

Folks, you have far, far more to fear , and much more to lose from the above mentioned crew of politicians and their unethical, dangerous gambling legislation than you do from George Bush tapping your cell phone calls.

So once again I urge the anti-casino groups, [No Casino Gettysburg, the East Falls Community Council's Casino Free Zone of Philadelphia, the Valley Citizens for Casino Free Development, and the Stop the Casino group from Limerick near Valley Forge, and others as they emerge] to band together in an effort to spread the grassroots campaign statewide, and to place great pressure on their Representatives and State Senators to get on board and support Paul Clymer’s repeal bill.

It must be done quickly. If not, the effort will die. Somebody in those groups needs to step up, develop a strategy and get this thing called Act 71 killed dead! It calls for leadership, and fast organization. How sad that in ten or eleven months, the possibility exists that these groups will say to themselves, "We had the chance to kill it, and did not act. Now it is too late."

Local grassroots organizations can make a lot of noise, but separately, they can be dealt with by the money the gaming industry is funneling into Pennsylvania.

Right now, intimidation is the name of the game. GettysBLOG, for example, has been viewed by someone in the IRS, using an IRS computer. To steal a quote from a great Monty Python film, "Message for you sir!" Another visit was made by someone from the National Counter Terrorism Center. There are others. And the word is, No Casino Gettysburg has gotten similar attention.

How pitiful it is that the rich and powerful should need to resort to these tactics to try to crush opposition to their great gambling pyramid scheme. (And that is all it is, ladies and gentlemen -- a pyramid scheme, where a few get rich, and then get out. The rest of us will left holding the bag, as it were, and that bag will be empty!)

Small fights invariably lose to big money. Collective fights can defeat that money. And according to an article in the
Allentown Morning Call (read this, it is VERY enlightening!), the time is probably right to get the non-leadership legislators on board.

Thomas Paine was an English born immigrant to Philadelphia in 1774, at the suggestion of one Benjamin Franklin, colonial representative to His Majesty’s Court of St. James. In the short two years he was in America, Paine lit the fires of revolution throughout the land. Everyone knows this from Paine’s Common Sense --

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

But few will recognize these as Paine’s words from The Rights of Man --

“A thing moderately good is not so good as it ought to be. Moderation in temper is always a virtue, but moderation in principle is always a vice.”

Or this, also from his famous Common Sense –

When my country, into which I had just set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It was time for every man to stir.

It is indeed time for men to stir, and to rise up against the oppression wrought by political money. Greed on a greater level than Gold Fever has infected the state Capital. You will not defeat that animal called greed by hammering at its many heads, but by cutting off its roots. Take away the enabling legislation and the casinos are dead in the water (where they were supposed to be!). Then let the politicians place a referendum for gaming on the ballot, and limit it as it was supposed to be, to the riverboats. But this business of allowing the casinos to be built wherever the Gaming Control Board (read: $$$$) decides to put them, in spite of any local zoning laws, or local opposition, is tyranny beyond what can be allowed. Ownership of casinos by politicians should not be permitted, yet it is, and it is also to be kept secret! The very same politicians who wrote and passed this piece of garbage called Act 71, are the ones who get to appoint the members of the Gaming Control Board who will make these "legal" decisions. At the very least, this is an outrageous conflict of interest! Act 71 of 2004 is loaded with many such items.

If that doesn’t put you all in a fighting mood, try one more from our good friend Mr. Paine –

“It is the duty of every patriot to protect his country from its government.”

Organize, centralize, and spread the grassroots throughout the state. You can kill this serpent.

As the great Todd Beamer said, “Let’s roll!”


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!"

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May! Before you vote,

Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

91: “An Invitation to an Art Show – Part 1”

Time out for a little culture.

GettysBLOG can’t draw. Not only can GettysBLOG not draw, he can’t even draw a straight line. GettysBLOG is also a bit color blind, especially in discriminating between various shades of a single pastel color. Thus it may come as somewhat of a surprise when we declare that GettysBLOG is somewhat of a connoisseur of art, but mostly an appreciator of good art, and art well done, with talent behind it. You do not have to have any particular artistic talent or ability to know good work when you see it.

Some artists are painters. Some put colors on paper or canvas and call it art. Others have the unique and uncanny ability to not only manipulate color, but light and shadow, perspective, and of course, subject. They do not paint for the eye, but for what the eye sees and what the viewer brings to the image in his own mind. Someone who has never heard of, or seen an apple, or, especially who has never eaten one, will never understand the painting of an apple. Each viewer who has experienced these things, then, looks at the painting of the apple and applies to it their own memories of an apple, somewhere in their time, and the smell, and the taste of that apple, and perhaps its juicy crispness comes to mind – indeed it may even bring other memories with it, all evoked by an ordinary object: the apple. Those that can evoke these thoughts from their viewing audience can then honestly call themselves artists.

In our years on this planet we have had the great good fortune to meet, and get to know more than a few artists. There are four, in particular, that we admire, and two of them we will discuss in another essay. For now, we are content to discuss two bright stars of American art.

Jeff Fioravanti is a New England (thus characterized so I do not have to constantly type Massachusetts!) artist who is making waves as an artist of great talent. He has done much of his work in a unique group of studies detailing Civil War battlefields…as they would look before the battle was fought. Battles change terrain. During the Civil War there were many instances where roads had to be cut through woodlots, trails marked through wetlands and swamps, earth moved to make ramparts and defensive works. At the Battle of Gettysburg, just about every fence rail for miles around disappeared to make defensive positions, or to fuel the thousands of cook-fires needed to feed nearly two hundred thousand men. Trees are felled to make defensive positions, and for firewood. In some battles, artillery did enough damage to woodlots as to render them destroyed. Houses, cabins, sheds, and barns were burned, or blown apart.

Battles change terrain.

Jeff Fioravanti has the knack of seeing the battlefields as they were, before the battles. In most cases, as the farmers had kept the land, and in other cases, how nature had done so. He captures these scenes from rare perspectives, and with muted, respectful tones. He uses a focus on his subjects that make the land the object, not the buildings. And that is right as it is the land that has been so consecrated by the blood of those who fought there.

Jeff does not paint Civil War scenes exclusively. He would not be a New England artist if he did not paint subjects dealing with the sea. In Jeff’s case, a series of small boats, dories as they are called, along the docks in the inlets and coves of New England. But like the land in the battlefield studies, here the focus is intently on the boats, and it is left to the viewer to supply the contextual details about which he peripherally hints.

Visit the
Fioravanti Fine Art website and view his work in the various galleries there. I think you will agree with me, that Jeff Fioravanti is an amazing talent who has built a wonderful repertoire of American Landscapes and New England scenes. Also, you can often view his works in the magazine American Artist, where they have been featured on several occasions.

Another fine example of American art can be found tucked away near Washington D.C. Visit the
Yellow Barn Studio website, of Glen Echo Park, Maryland, and click on the panel with the name Mimi Betz. Mrs. Betz has been painting for a while, now, after leaving it to raise a family and a career in government. A bit more traditional than most artists, Mimi makes effective use of color, shadow and light to present studies to the eye that evoke some of the more renowned 19th century European artists, some Dutch, some French.

She has a demonstrated ability to move from a tabletop still life to a broad expanse of riverside in Autumn, and then to focus in on some of the most beautifully rendered sunflowers you will ever see. I believe most artists tend to shy away from painting sunflowers, except for practice, to avoid the obvious comparisons to Vincent Van Gogh. Not so the delightful Mrs. Betz – her sunflowers stand tall, and straight, and blare their colors out with unabashed pride, indeed, it is almost defiance!

Like Fioravanti, Mimi can also focus on the landscape and leave the context to the viewer’s imagination. That is not just any garden, that is the garden at Clara Barton House, and there, the land itself, and the color it wears are the focus. Mrs. Betz uses the element of light and shadow to impose a scene of serenity and calm on the viewer.

As you can see by viewing their work, there are subtle messages conveyed in the work of both of these very talented people. These are both artists we would love to see more of, and to see more of their work. GettysBLOG greatly admires their work and recommends that you save the links to your favorites folder for both of these wonderful talents, and revisit their sites often. The links to both will reside on the sidebar to the right under the links “Artists in Residence” list.


Copyright © 2006: GettysBLOG; All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

90: "Alan Henry for State Representative in 91st District"

Yes, this is an endorsement. For a Democrat. That noise you hear is Daddy yelling at us from beyond the grave, “The last two times you did that were disasters! Jimmy Carter and Ed Rendell! You'd better be right!”

We’re sure we’re right. There are important principles and values at stake here.

Months ago we would have naturally endorsed incumbent Steve Maitland. We even volunteered to help Maitland’s next campaign. Besides, he’s a personable, likeable, all around nice guy. That was before he voted for the Midnight Pay Raise, and before he refused to pay it back, instead paying his law school tuition with it, and weakly rationalizing that it would make him a better representative.

We believe, with others, that it is long past time to stop asking those who still have not repaid the unvouchered expenses they took under that pay raise, to give it back. We believe it is now time for the Attorney General to file charges of felony theft in Commonwealth Court against those so disposed to steal from the taxpayers what the rest of the General Assembly repealed, and the Governor signed into law.

Effective representation begins with trust. When you can no longer trust your representative enough that he will do the right thing, especially something so obviously right, then you can no longer support that representative. This is the case with Steve Maitland, who has broken the trust with his constituents.

We look for a new representative and, with the very capable aid of Russ Diamond at
Operation Clean Sweep, we find Mr. Alan Henry of Upper Adams. Mr. Henry has served the public for many years as a first responder, has some very good training in negotiations, and has an agenda for his term of service, if elected.

Mr. Henry stands on these issues:

  • Term Limits - Mr. Henry vows to keep his promise of serving no more than twelve years (six terms) as State Representative, and will work to impose such a limit on both houses of the General Assembly.
  • Education – Mr. Henry supports the No Child Left Behind program, keeping fiscal control of schools local, reducing class sizes, advancing early childhood education, and lowering college tuition.
  • Property Tax Relief – Alan supports Act 72, and would work to reduce or eliminate property taxes on farmers and homeowners, especially seniors.
  • Development – Alan sees the need to impose per-unit impact fees on developers to alleviate the impact of infrastructure and other related costs currently passed on to the taxpayer.
  • Environment – Alan Henry supports zoning and comprehensive community planning to avoid random developments with failed septic systems and undrinkable water.
  • Emergency Services – As an EMT/First Responder for many years, this would naturally be an area where Alan Henry’s expertise and experience can come directly into play. Alan wants to make the Adams County Emergency Services Training Center a reality.
  • Crime – Mr. Henry supports increased police presence in Adams County.

To see all of Alan Henry’s issue positions, climb on board his extensive website at:

Alan Henry for State Representative – 91st Legislative District

We like the positions Alan Henry has taken on the issues noted above and other issues. Alan has no legislative record, Maitland does. Two bills in 14 years, a broken promise to not run after the twelfth year in office, and not returning the money from the repealed pay raise. Perhaps law school will make him a good attorney, but 14 years in office has not made him a good representative.

When searching for a candidate, one should look for a number of qualities, among which are integrity, honesty, commitment, ambition, candor, and clarity of goals and objectives. These qualities all go far towards the making of a leader. Steve Maitland’s score on these counts has been compromised by his unethical stand on the Pay Raise. Maitland has also proven that he is not a leader. Alan Henry shows all the signs that he will meet and exceed these criteria, and be an effective, capable voice for Adams County in Harrisburg. Adams County needs and deserves new representation.

Let’s help kick the hubris out of Harrisburg, by starting in the 91st Legislative District!

Vote for Alan Henry in May, and in November!

And remember, before you vote, GettysBLOG!


“Kick the hubris out of Harrisburg!” THE CENTRIST

“Be steadfast in your anger, be sure in your convictions, be moved by the right and certainty that abuse of power must be defeated at every turn; uphold Liberty as the just reward of a watchful people, and let not those who have infringed upon that Liberty steal it away from you. Never loosen your grip on Liberty!" --GettysBLOG

“Legislation without representation is tyranny.”

Remember in May & November! Before you vote

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